Posted on: August 25, 2012
My experience this summer has been extremely educational on many fronts, fulfilling in that my goals and aspirations to work towards LA certification have been reaffirmed, and overall, the internship was just plain fun. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work alongside the landscape architects at the Valles Caldera National Preserve in their Recreation Planning Division. I learned the importance of preservation, both environmental and cultural; I learned the importance of planning and engaging other professionals in the process in order to help shape the outcome with careful consideration; I learned the importance of creating an experience. My efforts were valued within our division and we worked as a team.
Throughout these last two months, we touched upon a myriad of projects ranging from physical environmental constraints caused by natural occurrences such as fire and rain to the necessary next phase of public access, the preserve, and environmental conservation. The latter description lead to a project in which the goal was to expand the range of public access that is already existing to include handicap access. The final project board and talking points may be viewed below and have been prepared for presentation at the next board meeting with the intention of starting a dialogue and moving the project forward. In the compilation of this material, I found it helpful to consult the designing the parks principles for direction, and although this project touches upon several of these principles, a glaring connection may be made to the principle, “The Engagement of All People”.
The location of the boardwalk, projecting into the wide open space of the Valle Grande, lends itself to a wholesome experience– one that can be accessed by many and whereas additional programming and interpretative structures may be considered for further enhancement.
The “Engagement of All People” principle incorporates the following concepts:
Connect people to community, nature and mankind.
Create healing places for individuals, communities, cultures.
Engage people of diverse cultures, ages and interests.
Empower youth to be bold leaders and influence design in parks.
Create stewards through active learning about a place and its meanings.
Lead and inspire by example.
Accommodate, incorporate, and enhance emerging technologies to embrace visitor of all ages and backgrounds.
An insight that I learned and can take away from this experience is the importance of teamwork in the planning process. In the Spring of 2012, I had the opportunity to work with the CCNY studio team on the Nicodemus National Historic Site. We researched individually and in teams large amounts of data, devising conclusions from the whole. Conclusions that directly impacted our design focus and initiatives for the site. This process was not one that any of us could have successfully completed on our own. It required each of us, with our different backgrounds, to contribute. I had a wonderful opportunity to meet up with Grace in Nicodemus and to convey our work to the residents of Nicodemus, and I must say, I was proud to tell them what we accomplished and what our findings were that led us to the final design. Teamwork was not only present in our studio processes, but in my work at the Valles Caldera National Preserve throughout my summer internship. Working in a team environment enables us to learn, stay interested and engaged, and work together towards a greater goal. I learned a tremendous amount from those I was surrounded by, and with this knowledge, I further realized the richness of the place I was in and was inspired to bring these realizations out for everyone to enjoy.